Kara Walker (b. 1969)
Kara Walker’s paper silhouettes depict the bigotry, brutality and sexism of the Antebellum era, in order to question contemporary assumptions about gender and race in America. She uses the visual language of the slaveholder to deconstruct racial stereotypes. Working within a traditionally genteel, decorative tradition, Walker disarms viewers with images of graphic—and often sexual—violence. Walker’s paper tableaux are often exhibited in life-sized installations. She also works with shadow puppets, “magic lantern” projections, and animation. Her art is both controversial and highly praised, and at age 27 she became the youngest recipient of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s “genius” grant. Her work has been shown internationally, and has been organized into solo shows at the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim Museum (all NYC). Walker lives in New York City, where she teaches in Columbia’s MFA program.